BIOGRAPHY by MCL PUBLISHING HOUSE
Copyright MCL Publishing House - Reprinted with permission.
Tatiana Nikolaeva: Life in the name of music.
Saturday, 26 June 2010 14:11 Lozbeneva C.
Tatiana NikolaevaTatiana Nikolaeva is one of the brightest names of Russian musical culture of the last century. A
brilliant pianist, who won world fame, an outstanding pedagogue, composer, musician ... God generously gave her
not only the unsurpassed musical talent, but also a rare kindness, flaming heart, deep humility and infinite love of
music what now is rarely found among professional musicians.
Having came from the Bryansk region to Moscow at the age of thirteen and entered the Central Music School,
Tatiana Nikolaeva enraptured Alexander Goldenweiser by her talent and became his favorite pupil. She always
uttered name Goldenweiser with a deep sense of respect. "He taught me not only to play the piano, he taught me
how to live, to see life in all its aspects" – she said about her teacher in the interview.
The traditions of Russian piano school were given her "at first hand". Naturalness and great simplicity, the absence
of any external affectation, structural alignment, impeccable rhythmic will and at the same time inner freedom,
shining with a unique beauty continuous flow of melodic singing - these qualities of her performance manners
became apparent already during her studies in the class of Goldenweiser.
Tatiana Nikolaeva And then - the rapid creative growth. In 1945 she won the first prize at the Philharmonic contest
dedicated to the 30 anniversary of the death of Scriabin. In 1947 - the second prize at the First World Festival of
Youth and Students in Prague. That year Nikolaeva graduated with honours the piano faculty of Moscow
Conservatory and in 1950 – composer’s one, having received for her degree work – the First piano concerto - the
USSR State Prize. Her name is carved on marble conservatory slab, where the names of its best graduates were.
And then, from the late 1940's, her semicentennial concert marathon begins. She played the first solo concerts at
Small Hall of the Conservatory, striking the Moscow audience by large and exciting programs.
The real triumph of Tatiana Nikolaeva was her victory at the First I.S. Bach International Competition in Leipzig in
1950. Being quite young pianist, Nikolaeva caused a sensation when she proposed the jury the choice of all 48
preludes and fugues from "Well-Tempered Clavier" of Bach. The German music press immediately christened her
as "Queen of fugues". Another important event besides getting the first prize and gold medal, was meeting with D.
Shostakovich - one of the members of the Bach Competition’s jury. Nikolaeva treasured this long-standing
friendship all her life. She was the first who performed 24 Preludes and Fugues written by Shostakovich
immediately after the contest. She often recorded them on plates, promoted them throughout the world. This
great music accompanied her to the last minutes of her life.
In the early 50's she made her first big tour in Europe, Asia, Latin America, Australia and New Zealand. The vast
majority of Soviet artists of the time this could only dream of it... She played with all outstanding conductors in
almost all countries of the world. Long-term creative friendship tied Tatiana Nikolaeva with the Lithuanian
Chamber Orchestra and its leader S. Sondeckis. They played together more than a hundred concerts. Their most
valuable and memorable joint work was the performance of twelve clavier concertos of Bach, played as a cycle
(during three evenings, one after another) in all thirteen times.
Tatiana NikolaevaThe immense repertoire of Nikolaeva is unparalleled in the history of modern pianism. She could
compete unless with Anton Rubinstein. Concerts, played by Tatyana Nikolaeva during nearly 50 years of her
artistic activity, are not emuneratable. And every year she tried to play more and more. Almost all the clavier
works of Bach, 32 sonatas of Beethoven and his concerts and variations, cycles by Schumann, the most part of
Schubert music, Chopin, Liszt, Brahms, Debussy, Ravel, Tchaikovsky, Rachmaninoff, Scriabin, Medtner, Prokofiev,
all Shostakovich's piano works ...
It is difficult to imagine how one artistic biography can contain such a variety of repertory layers. It is known that
when one of the recording companies asked Nikolayeva about her repertoire, Tatiana said: "The whole world
piano literature, excepting Bartok Second Concerto".
At the same time Nikolayeva didn’t cease to enrich her repertoire. Many composers asked her to perform their
new compositions. Nikolaeva smoothly learnt them as soon as possible. These were concerts of Golubeva,
Kryukov, Eshpai and many others. When Stravinsky came to Russia the panic arose: who will be able to learn and
play still unknown at that time in our country Capriccio for piano and orchestra in a few days? All interviewed
Soviet celebrities refused to... Excepting Nikolaeva. Stravinsky himself, of course, was delighted with courage and
talent of young pianist. Such the events happened more than once in the life of Tatiana Nikolaeva. And she took
them with quiet and humble thanks, speaking a little about them and without boasting. Having enormous
prestige, she was completely devoid of the ability to depress an interlocutor by it; she always listened attentively
to other people's opinions. Under no circumstances she didn’t overemphasized her person and never allowed
herself the “whims of prima donnas”. Her internal self-appraisal expressed more in the character and scale of
creative tasks that set for herself. Truly unique creative accomplishments of Tatyana Nikolaeva were never
accompanied by some advertising; moreover, it not always received well-deserved resonance. Recording disks one
after another that are still reprinted around the world, she never flaunted it. Meanwhile, everyone knew how
Tatiana loved to listen to other musicians’ recordings, what a passionate plates’ collector she was.
Another important facet of Nikolaeva’s activities is teaching at Moscow Conservatory. In this area, she worked no
less selflessly. Living in the incredible pace as a performer, returning from her regular touring trip, she
immediately went to class. As Goldenveiser, Nikolaeva was not just a teacher, she was a teacher in the broadest
sense. She formed in her students certain attitude not only to art but to life in general, educating them by
personal example. Tatiana liked to perform with her students as ensemble. She saw in it that inextricable link,
which is the ultimate goal and main reward for the teacher. Her regular partners in the Bach cycle were such
students as M. Petukhov, S. Senkov, A. Schmidt, A.M. Evseev and later N. Lugansky.
Tatiana NikolaevaNikolaeva didn’t know professional jealousy, she could appreciate other people's achievements.
For his outstanding colleagues and talented students from other classes, she responded with a sincere respect
and recognition. She gave sincere respect and recognition to her outstanding colleagues and talented students
from other classes. Incredible on a scale talent and tremendous musical opportunities simply left no place in her
heart for jealousy that is often so characteristic of artists. Nikolaeva also gave many forces to composition activity.
Two piano and violin concertos, symphonic work "Borodino field", string quartets and trios, sonatas, 24 concert
etudes, numerous pieces, transcriptions ... All her writings, as well as performance, are directly linked with the
great Russian tradition.
Music filled her life to the brim. Her incredible creative activity was fed only by one passion she entirely gave
herself to - a huge love for Music. And it was this love that gave her strength for all spheres of her activities. When
one interviewer asked her: "You perform much, you are recorded, are a member of the jury of many competitions,
you have a great class ... Are you not tired?" Nikolaeva said: "I do not understand how you can get tired of music?".
She went as every artist could wish about. At her last concert in San Francisco after the performance of one of her
favorite part of Shostakovich cycle - b-moll fugues, she felt unwell and left the scene, closing the keyboard piano.
She always finished playing "The Art of Fugue" by Bach exactly in such symbolic way - on the unfinished
counterpoint in the whole silence...
Tatiana NikolaevaAs all great, over the years the true value of Tatyana Nikolaeva’s art becomes more and more
evident. Her name will remain to be a synonym with loyalty to high art and Russian musical culture, not only for
those who had luck to know her, but also for future generations.
The author thanks the Goldenweiser Museum for assistance and provided materials.
Translated by Gavrilova N.